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November 18, 2015

Gleaning Support Grants --
Secretary Fisher announced on November 2 that the New Jersey Agricultural Society, Foodshed Alliance and Gateway Community Action Partnership will share a $100,000 Gleaning Support Grant, made possible through the Department of Agriculture’s State Food Purchase Program. Fisher made the announcement at Giamarese Farms in East Brunswick, where he joined Bristol-Myers Squibb volunteers in harvesting collard greens that will be distributed by the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Farmers Against Hunger (FAH) program to Mt. Cavalry Church in Camden, Browns Mills Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Second Baptist Church of Mt. Holly, central distribution points serving 30 area food pantries. Farmers James and Sue Giamarese have hosted more than 15 gleanings this year and donated almost 13,000 pounds of produce. The Department of Agriculture provides Gleaning Support Grants to eligible non-profit entities that are gleaning from New Jersey farms and distributing gleaned food to New Jersey organizations to help feed the state’s hungry. The Farmers Against Hunger program will receive a $78,816 grant to pay for truck operation and salaries. Receiving a $13,939 grant was the Foodshed Alliance in Blairstown, which operates LocalShare, a program that connects food pantries and local farms so that crops left after the harvest that might otherwise go to waste feeds hungry families instead. Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc./Gateway Community Action Partnership, which serves seven South Jersey counties, was awarded a $7,245 grant. They have a gleaning program, which distributes more than 800,000 pounds a year of surplus produce and food products to churches and other food pantries.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Planning – The Department is continuing to update its HPAI Emergency Response Plan by engaging its State support agencies and non-governmental organizations. Plans are under way to have trainings for the staff that include using a portable foaming machine and donning and doffing personal protective equipment. A demonstration of a cart that uses CO2 gas to humanely euthanize birds during an outbreak will be demonstrated. The NJDA is also planning two table top exercises; one for Department staff and another multi-agency exercise. A meeting with various state support agencies is planned in November. The NJDA is continuing to meet with commercial poultry farms, live bird markets and backyard poultry to enhance their biosecurity to prevent the disease from entering their premises.

Horticulture Program at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital -- Secretary Fisher joined Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly on November 6 for a tour of the horticulture program at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in Trenton. Between eight and 26 patients participate in the horticultural vocational program, The New Leaf Gardeners, on a daily basis. Secretary Fisher and Acting Commissioner Connolly visited a plant design class, toured the greenhouses and potting shed and viewed retail items available for purchase, including houseplants, seasonal floral arrangements and birdhouses. In addition, they toured the hospital grounds to view areas that have benefitted from landscape design, installation and hardscaping projects. New Leaf Gardener workers receive three hours of education and three hours of paid work each week. They assist with greenhouse operations and production, which might include preparing soils, watering plants, repotting plants, weeding and cultivating plants, maintaining the greenhouses and managing various outside gardens on the hospital grounds. There is a floral design class and special projects that include interior plantscaping, hardscaping, landscape design and installation.

Agricultural Fair Ambassador -- Rebecca Carmeli-Peslak of Millstone Township has been chosen as the 2016 New Jersey Agricultural Fair Ambassador. The 16-year-old 11th – grader at the Hun School of Princeton was selected from among 10 contestants by the Agricultural Fair Association of New Jersey during the group’s fall dinner on November 1 in Eastampton. As ambassador, Carmeli-Peslak is charged with visiting the state’s agricultural fairs in 2016, discussing the fairs, promoting agritourism to the public and bringing people together to support the state’s agriculture industry.